The Federal Trade Commission’s vendetta against robocalls continued today as the agency announced the winner of a contest – and $25,000 – for building an app that blocks and forwards the annoying calls.
An app called RoboKiller was crowned victor in the FTC’s Robocall: Humanity Strikes Back contest that aimed to find the best way to forward the prerecorded messages to a honeypot – an information system used by government, private and academic partners to lure and analyze robocalls.
RoboKiller, which was the brainchild of Ethan Garr and Bryan Moyles, relies on universally available call forwarding that works on both landline and mobile phones, and uses audio-fingerprint technology to identify robocalls.
The program gives consumers greater control over how and when they receive calls by sending robocalls to a SpamBox that users can access at any time. It utilizes consumer-controlled white and black list filtering and provides personalized setting options.
Runner-up for the contest, Hemant Sengar – who applied similar audio analytics in his solution – received a $10,500 prize.
“We hope the winners bring their dynamic solutions to the marketplace soon,” Jessica Rich, Director, FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said. “Their products may block billions of unwanted robocalls, and help people report illegal robocallers to law enforcement.”
In addition to handing out the $25,000 prize, the FTC announced the winners of its DetectaRobo analytic challenge, which was hosted in June 2015.
That contest, which didn’t include a monetary prize, was won by Ved Deshpande and M. Henry Linde on Team HaV.
DetectaRobo contestants analyzed call data from an existing robocall honeypot and developed algorithms that identified which calls in the data set were likely robocalls. The winning teams employed similar strategies in examining particular data categories such as temporal information and area codes, and applied machine learning techniques.
FTC Awards $25,000 Top Cash Prize for Contest-Winning Mobile App That Blocks Illegal Robocalls [Federal Trade Commission]